Turkish bill would legalize statutory rape – as long as you marry the victim

The Turkish Parliament in session.

A new bill has appeared in the Turkish Parliament that could legalize statutory rape, or the act of sexual intercourse with a minor, as long as the offender is found to have not used ‘force or threat’ to coerce the victim in to sex, and if the two marry.

Turkey’s current administration stands on the border between Islamism and democracy – especially with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in power, so it’s not the most surprising thing that a bill like this would come about. The prophet Muhammad had a nine year old wife named Aisha, and is viewed as an ideal role model to many Muslims, so oftentimes barbaric and backwards ideas are legitimized because he participated in them.

I shouldn’t need to tell you why this bill is a horrendous idea, but here we go. The bill would incentive child marriage, by allowing child rapists to get away with their crimes just by paying off the parents for marriage. There are currently around 3,000 men who are accused of assaulting minors in Turkey, and many of them will have their convictions overturned if the law is passed.

To make things worse, the treatment of women in Turkey has gotten shockingly bad over the last few decades: 40% of women report sexual physical abuse, and the murder rate of women has gone up 14x between 2003 and 2010.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Erdogan and his conservative AKP party has raised furor with their unequal treatment of women, however: Erdogan two years ago said that women were not equal to men because “it is against nature”, and there were mass protests one year ago after a rape victim was killed after trying to resist her rapist.

If this law is passed, it will be another step down for the formerly secular state of Turkey – and something tells me it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Want more? Read my interview with Turkish professor Sena Karasipahi about the coup – and Turkey’s declining state of politics here.


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